Photograph: © H. Cartier Bresson/Magnum Photos/Scanpix Denmark In a train outside of St. Louis sat a young Langston Hughes. He had graduated from high school some weeks earlier and, though he should have been excited for the big life about to unfold before him, he was in a melancholic and reflective mood. He stared out of the window, considering the great Mississippi River moving southward into the heart of segregated America. He thought of his father, a black man whom Hughes believed hated both his blackness and his people. As Hughes looked over the river, he remembered the story he had once read about President Lincoln floating on a raft down the Mississippi and then he thought of other powerful waterways that feature prominently in the history of black Americans. This story is from Kinfolk Issue Thirty-One Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Issue 47 Julia Bainbridge On the life-enhancing potential of not drinking alcohol. Arts & Culture Issue 45 Lisa Taddeo On writing the secret lives of women. Arts & Culture Issue 44 Garth Greenwell The Cleanness author on always being an outsider. Arts & Culture Issue 42 Torrey Peters The Detransition, Baby author is living her best life. Arts & Culture Films Music Issue 42 Peer Review Iranian artist and filmmaker Shirin Neshat pays homage to the iconic Egyptian singer Oum Kulthum. Arts & Culture Issue 39 Nic Stone How can a young adult fiction author tackle racism, inequality and incarceration—but not rob teen readers of their optimism?